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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1999 Nov;6(6):868-71.

Decay of passively acquired maternal antibodies against measles, mumps, and rubella viruses.

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Institute for Medical Microbiology, University of Bern, Switzerland.


The decay of maternally derived antibodies to measles, mumps, and rubella viruses in Swiss infants was studied in order to determine the optimal time for vaccination. A total of 500 serum or plasma samples from infants up to 2 years of age were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and fluorescent-antibody testing. The decline of antibody prevalence was slowest against the measles virus. By 9 to 12 months of age, only 5 of 58 (8.6%; 95% CI, 2.9 to 19.0) infants were antibody positive for the measles virus, and only 2 had levels above 200 mIU/ml. Mumps and rubella virus antibody seropositivity was lowest at 9 to 12 months of age with 3 of 58 (5. 2%; 95% CI, 1.1 to 14.4) infants and at 12 to 15 months with 1 of 48 (2.1%; 95% CI, 0.1 to 11.1) infants, respectively. Concentrations of passively acquired antibodies decreased rapidly within the first 6 months of life. We observed no significant differences in antibody prevalence or concentration according to gender in any age group. In conclusion, MMR vaccination at 12 instead of 15 months of age could reduce the pool of susceptible subjects in infancy and support the efforts to eliminate these infections, particularly in combination with a second vaccine dose before school entry.

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